I never finished telling you about the whole wisdom teeth ordeal

Days 15 and 16, I stayed off the pain meds, determined to just get better already. Plus, I felt woozy on the drugs — headachy and tired and bleh — and I figured it was time for me to buck up. As though I had control, ha!

Day 16, my ear started hurting. I knew I’d be taking pain meds on Day 17 when I was going to play Ultimate come hell or high water, and began counting down the hours until I could take medicine again. And then my husband was like, This is stupid; take the meds. So I did.

Day 17, I played Ultimate. Also, the ear pain was getting worse.

Day 18, the ear pain was spreading to my chin, eyebrow, cheekbone. All my teeth on that side of my mouth felt tender, like they were riddled with cavities. I called the oral surgeon and left a message with the friendly receptionist. My main question: Was this increased pain normal? Had there been complications I didn’t know about? And no, I had no red gums, bleeding, swelling, fever, etc, etc. Everything else looked and felt good.

at work: a soft lunch

Day 19, the friendly receptionist called back. To summarize: The doctor said your surgery was quite difficult so your recovery will be longer than normal. The pain will migrate around your face as you heal. You can always come in if you’d like us to check it. Have you tried hot compresses? Their “I’m sorry but there’s nothing we can do” attitude was beginning to give me the distinct impression that they didn’t believe that I was in pain, or that they thought I was trying to get more drugs (which I was). 

That day I called my husband at work and told him I could no longer advocate for myself. A few minutes later my son (the ER nurse) called me. When I asked him if there were any other options beyond Oxycodone, he rattled off a huge list of medicines, as well as over-the-counter options and home remedies, which made me really feel like the oral surgeon was ignoring me. I decided I wasn’t going to drive an hour round trip and pay big bucks to have them look in my mouth and repeat that there was nothing they could do for me, so . . .

Day 20, I called my regular dentist. Might I come in and have someone look at the incisions just to confirm that everything is actually okay? I asked.

At the dentist’s office, they flatout said, “You should not be having pain. Something is wrong.” They took photos and asked me questions and consulted with each other. The dentist noted that one side of my face was ever-so-slightly warmer and more swollen, immediately called in a prescription for antibiotic, and when I teared up thanking her, she wrapped me in an enormous bear hug. There’s no charge for this one, she said.

med notes

The pain lessened dramatically over the next several days but it took another five days or so for me to go off pain meds completely. Exactly four weeks to the day of my surgery, I went running for the first time (the pain and stiffness was always worse in the morning), and now, nearly six weeks out, I’m almost one-hundred percent back to normal. 

All things considered, getting my wisdom teeth out wasn’t terrible. I never once gagged on blood or threw up. I ate just fine (mostly). My face hardly swelled at all, and I didn’t get dry socket. I continued to live and do things and function. (I made cheese on Day Two, for crying out loud.) But ongoing pain is distracting and exhausting, and the medicines, while necessary and absolutely wonderful, change how one feels, which only adds to the cycle, a cycle which seems to get increasingly vicious at every turn. To finally be on the other side, and to feel like myself once again, unmedicated and pain-free, is rather incredible.

The End
(for real this time)

This same time, years previous: whey ricotta, how we homeschool: Rebecca, Clymer and Kurtz, my sweet beast, the quotidian (12.4.17), the quotidian (12.5.16), oatmeal sandwich bread, in my kitchen: 6:44 p.m., cinnamon raisin bread, baked ziti.


  • Rachel Hill

    I remember having a dry socket when I had my wisdom teeth removed. Very painful! Even though you didn’t have a dry socket, your pain sounds awful. Glad that is behind you.

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